Four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) compliance officers have recently completed a deployment in the Pacific with the Royal New Zealand Navy aboard HMNZS Wellington.
The New Zealand Naval offshore patrol vessel was deployed as part of ‘Operation Calypso’ during which the officers and crew undertook a range of tasks which included fisheries patrolling, ordinance removal, and diplomatic engagement. HMNZS Wellington returned briefly to Devonport Naval Base after this deployment, before commencing her next fisheries tasking in New Zealand’s southern waters.
During the final stage of the Pacific operation, four MPI compliance officers joined the vessel. They boarded and inspected a number of tuna vessels in international waters adjacent to New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These inspections were aimed at monitoring compliance with the legally binding conservation and management measures put in place by member countries of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
The inspections also gathered important catch information which will be used to help inform decision making around fisheries stock assessments, which are done to ensure that fisheries are being sustainably managed. During the course of the patrol a number of offences were detected including serious breaches by a Fijian flagged longline vessel. The Fijian authorities responded swiftly by imposing severe sanctions on the vessel which highlighted how we can work together with another country to raise compliance levels across a shared high seas fishery.
Dean Baigent, Director of Compliance at MPI says, “Patrolling the international waters to the north of New Zealand is of great importance due to the migratory nature of the tuna stocks. If the fish are not being sustainably managed in this area or fishing vessels are operating outside of the rules and requirements, it will impact greatly on our own domestic tuna fisheries”
During the course of Operation Calypso, HMNZS Wellington also conducted a joint fisheries patrol in the Tuvalu Exclusive Economic Zone, with a Fishery Officer from Tuvalu working alongside New Zealand naval personnel to protect the valuable fisheries resources which form the basis of the Tuvalu economy. Operational costs relating to the involvement of the Tuvalu fisheries officer were funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade.